Health IT, Devices & Diagnostics

Livongo claims next gen. of blood glucose meter offers new twist on software downloads

The roll out of Livongo’s upgraded device follows the close of a $45 million Series C round earlier this year.

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Two years after it secured FDA-clearance for its blood glucose meter, Livongo upgraded the device so that it can download software updates over the air, according to a news release.

In a phone interview with Amar Kendale, senior vice president of product at Livongo, he said it was the first meter with the ability to download software updates in this way. He added that he believes this approach will be adopted by other companies producing blood-glucose meters in the future. Although there’s a growing number of smartphone-dependent meters, they can come with their own set of complexities, like dropped connections, Kendale said.

Some of the other updates to the device, which shipped in October, are a cleaner interface and cooler palettes to make reading the screen at night easier on the eyes. Livongo also reduced the number of steps required to operate it, Kendale said.

From Kendale’s perspective, the challenge for the medical device companies Livongo competes with is they face so many competitive cost pressures, they have to reduce the number of features for their devices. On the flip side, although continuous glucose meters are ideal, their cost makes them prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to most.

Livongo’s meter provides coaching insights based on users’ data. After each reading, users receive advice on how to better manage their condition. They can also connect to coaches online. The company’s customer base includes health plans, self-insured employers and providers.

Livongo’s approach with the new generation of blood-glucose meters presents itself as a challenge to the smartphone-connected meters offered by companies such as DarioHealth, previously LabStyle Innovations, which secured FDA clearance for its smartphone connected device last year.

AgaMatrix, a medical device company co-founded by Sonny Vu, launched iBGStar, the first blood glucose meter that connects directly to an iPhone,  in 2012. It rolled out cloud support for companion apps for iPhone and Android last year. The company also developed a second generation version of its Jazz Wireless 2 device using Bluetooth technology.